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America's Low-Paying Jobs

Anthony Balderrama, Careerbuilder.com writer

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Jobs at the low end of the pay scale are often overlooked. Understandably, everyone wants to earn a lot of money -- it makes life easier when you're not counting pennies between paychecks. The problem is that, unless you're on the receiving end of nepotism, your first job isn't going to earn you six figures.

Many low-paying jobs are perfect fits for students who want to earn a little cash or for anyone who wants a second job. Often, these jobs have flexible or unconventional hours, so you're not stuck in a cubicle from 8 to 5 every day. Perhaps more importantly, these jobs allow you to get a taste of a company or industry so that you can begin building your career.

Paul Facella's book, "Everything I Know About Business I Learned at McDonald's," is a perfect example of how jobs that don't pay big bucks can form a strong foundation for career growth. Facella began working on the other side of the counter at McDonald's when he was 16 years old. He went from serving fries to serving as a regional vice president with the company. And now he has a book, which is more than most people can say.

With that in mind, take a look at these 20 jobs with modest incomes, according to CBsalary.com, and consider how they might factor into your professional goals.



1. Amusement and recreation attendants
Mean* hourly earnings: $8.76
Mean annual earnings: $18,220 

2. Bartenders
Mean hourly earnings: $9.49
Mean annual earnings: $19,740 

3. Cafeteria, food concession and coffee-shop counter attendants
Mean hourly earnings: $8.57
Mean annual earnings: $17,820 

4. Cashiers
Mean hourly earnings: $8.84
Mean annual earnings: $18,380 

5. Child-care workers
Mean hourly earnings: $9.46
Mean annual earnings: $19,670 

6. Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food
Mean hourly earnings: $8.03
Mean annual earnings: $16,700 

7. Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers
Mean hourly earnings: $8.36
Mean annual earnings: $17,380 

8. Dishwashers
Mean hourly earnings: $8.20
Mean annual earnings: $17,060 

9. Farm workers and laborers, crop, nursery and greenhouse
Mean hourly earnings: $8.82
Mean annual earnings: $18,350 

10. Fast-food cooks
Mean hourly earnings: $8.11
Mean annual earnings: $16,860 

11. Food preparation workers
Mean hourly earnings: $9.30
Mean annual earnings: $19,350 

12. Graders and sorters of agricultural products
Mean hourly earnings: $9.42
Mean annual earnings: $19,590 

13. Maids and housekeeping cleaners
Mean hourly earnings: $9.40
Mean annual earnings: $19,550 

14. Manicurists and pedicurists
Mean hourly earnings: $10.59
Mean annual earnings: $22,020 

15. Nonrestaurant food servers
Mean hourly earnings: $9.93
Mean annual earnings: $20,660 

16. Parking lot attendants
Mean hourly earnings: $9.29
Mean annual earnings: $19,320 

17. Restaurant, lounge and coffee-shop hosts and hostesses
Mean hourly earnings: $8.54
Mean annual earnings: $17,770 

18. Short-order cooks
Mean hourly earnings: $9.41
Mean annual earnings: $19,580 

19. Textile, garment and related materials pressers
Mean hourly earnings: $9.27
Mean annual earnings: $19,280 

20. Waiters and waitresses
Mean hourly earnings: $8.93
Mean annual earnings: $18,570 

* Mean wages are calculated by taking all salaries in an occupation and dividing by the number of workers to find the overall average. Hourly earnings are based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Anthony Balderrama is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com. He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.



Last Updated: 21/01/2009 - 2:02 PM


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